How to restore Basic HTML View on Gmail

gmail basic html view

Google's email service Gmail provided you with two different view modes for quite some time. The default view mode that is currently using quite an assortment of technologies, colors, and other features, and the Basic HTML View mode which has been designed primarily for speed and fast access.

What made Basic HTML View attractive was that you could access it on low performance machines without issues, while the standard view mode would normally take longer to load.

It is the default view mode for unsupported web browsers. According to Google, only Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari are supported browsers. There are however other browsers, like the newest version of Opera, which are also taken directly to the standard view version on the website.

Anyway, up until now, Gmail users had the option to switch between Basic HTML View and Standard View using a small link displayed on the site.

It appears that this link has been removed by Google, or at least moved to a location where I cannot find it anymore.

This in turn can be a problem for users who prefer to access the Basic HTML View version of Gmail, and no the new fancier version.

What's interesting in this regard is that it is still possible to make the switch, but only if you know the direct link that does that for you. There are two links that are of importance here:

  • http://mail.google.com/mail?nocheckbrowser This link bypasses the browser check when you open the Gmail website, so that the standard version of the interface is displayed to you regardless of whether your browser is deemed compatible or not.
  • https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html&zy=h This link will open the Basic HTML View interface automatically on Gmail, again regardless of browser that you are using. If you follow it, a notification is displayed at the top allowing you to set basic HTML as the default view mode on Gmail.

If you want to work in Basic HTML View all the time, it is suggested to set it as your default view mode as it will be loaded automatically from that moment on even if you access the default Gmail website directly and do not use the special link posted above.

Why did Google remove the link from the Gmail interface? It is not clear, and there has been no announcement in this regard. It can be a simple oversight, or, it may be that Google plans to do what Yahoo did some time ago: Create a unified inbox experience and get rid of all older versions of the inbox completely.

For now though, the option to use the basic mode is still there, albeit hidden from most users. (thanks Alan)

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Responses to How to restore Basic HTML View on Gmail

  1. imu December 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Hi Martin, there is also third way to achieve it if you log into your account with noscript enabled then they ask you to view mobile version or basic html :)

    • imu December 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      "JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use Gmail in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options, then try again.

      To use Gmail's basic HTML view, which does not require JavaScript, click here.

      If you want to view Gmail on a mobile phone or similar device click here."

    • Martin Brinkmann December 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Interesting, thanks for mentioning that.

  2. Pierre December 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    It is nice (and better than current solution, I think) but there are problems in the contacts after

    • imu December 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      @Pierre after you change the settings to basic HTML you can then allow google to load scripts, it won't get back to standard view on its own :) but you can do it manually at any time if you will.

  3. Bill December 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Good one. Thanks for writing this.

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